German GP: Honda qualifying report

Pedrosa a Close Third in Two-part Qualifying Session Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) came within 0.131 seconds of scoring his third pole position of the year during this afternoon's dramatic German Grand Prix qualifying session. The session...

Pedrosa a Close Third in Two-part Qualifying Session

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) came within 0.131 seconds of scoring his third pole position of the year during this afternoon's dramatic German Grand Prix qualifying session.

The session was red-flagged just after halfway following an incident at the end of the start-finish straight. World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) suffered an engine failure that spread oil on the racing line, bringing down Ben Spies (Yamaha) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) at speed.

At that point Pedrosa had been ahead. The session was restarted as soon as the oil had been dealt with, Lorenzo and then Casey Stoner (Ducati) sneaking ahead of Pedrosa in the final minutes. Nevertheless Pedrosa ended the afternoon a tantalisingly close third quickest and is happy with the work he has done on race set-up. Most important of all he is on the front row -- the Sachsenring's ultra-tight first corner makes this one of the trickiest race starts of the season.

Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) was next up in fourth, to lead the second row. Like everyone else Dovizioso's work schedule was slightly disturbed by the mid-session stoppage but the Italian is confident he can run a good pace in the 30 lap race. His main focus before the race is to further improve his RCV's mid-corner performance.

Most riders, including Dovizioso, bettered their Friday times during this morning's free practice, which started on a slightly damp track. Conditions were very different from yesterday afternoon when the ambient temperature soared to 36 degrees. After overnight thunder and lightning storms this afternoon's temperature was 24 degrees.

Fifth fastest in free practice, de Puniet had been in the hunt for a fourth consecutive front row until he was brought down by Lorenzo's oil slick. The Frenchman -- who is benefitting from upgraded electronics kit from HRC -- suffered a minor injury to his lower right leg when he clipped Spies' fallen Yamaha while sliding through the gravel trap. De Puniet took no further part in the session but has been cleared fit to race. He will start from seventh place, heading the third row.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) will take his place in the middle of the third row, starting from eighth position for the third consecutive race. The Italian rookie has been building speed and confidence at the last few GPs and is keen to make up for his tumble at Catalunya, where he had been on course for his best premier-class result.

Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) completed the session in tenth spot, 1.1 seconds off pole. The Italian is still recovering from the dislocated left shoulder he sustained in a practice crash at Assen, which isn't making life comfortable at this physically demanding anti-clockwise circuit which features seven consecutive left-handers from turn five to turn 11.

Alex de Angelis (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V) had a tough return to MotoGP today, tumbling at the blind turn 12 during the closing stages of qualifying. It was never going to be easy for the San Marino rider, coming into this race without any testing as substitute for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, but at least he walked away from his high-speed fall unscathed and was able to continue on his second bike. De Angelis had been contesting Moto2 until he got the call up to fill in for Aoyama, who injured his back at Silverstone.

Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) proved once again that he has the strongest package in the Honda-powered Moto2 series with his fourth pole position from the last five races. Iannone has also won two of the last five races and would likely have won a third at Catalunya two weeks ago if he hadn't received a ride-through penalty for overtaking under yellow warning flags. The Italian's advantage -- in a class with control engines and tyres -- was impressive, at 0.673 seconds. To put his advantage into perspective, the next 18 riders are covered by 0.665 seconds.

Local favourite and GP rookie Arne Tode (Racing Team Germany, Suter) achieved his best GP qualifying performance this afternoon with second fastest Moto2 time. The 25-year-old from Bergen -- who knows this track well from previous visits with the German Superbike and Supersport series -- will be doing everything in his power to convert his qualifying speed into a podium finish in front of his home crowd.

Championship leader Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) seems to have got his challenge back on track after a difficult few races. Like many Moto2 riders, Elias tested at Aragon (venue for September's inaugural Aragon GP) following the Catalan GP. He made some radical chassis adjustments and is raring to put them to a full test in tomorrow's race.

Catalan podium finisher Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) will be out to score his fourth top-three result of the year. And few riders know their way around this track than the Spaniard who dominated last year's German 125 GP, winning the race by more than nine seconds.

Marcel Schrötter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) wasn't wholly satisfied with his 15th place in 125 qualifying, especially considering the fact that he has recorded faster times here in the past. Schrötter's crew will try some changes in warm-up in an effort to improve the 17-year-old's race pace.

-source: honda

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Ben Spies , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marco Simoncelli , Toni Elias , Alex de Angelis , Casey Stoner , Arne Tode , Julian Simon , Dani Pedrosa , Andrea Iannone , Marcel Schrötter